Toddler Road Trip Activities: How $2.25 Bought Us 4 Hours of Happy Silence

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Toddler Road Trip Activities

car road trip boredom buster toddler landon plays cards title

About a week before we hit the road for Disney, it dawned on me that while I had an array of fabulous boredom busters for Lily to enjoy in the car, I had absolutely ZIP for Landon (16 months old at the time of our trip).  I started to panic a little.  Then I started to search Pinterest but everything I was finding was either geared towards old kids or too “babyish” for his non-stop thirst to be entertained.

I knew that we would have the DVD players in the car (and I”ll tell ya right now, they saved us from more than one “I’m-so-tired-I’m-gonna-lose-it” episode).  But I knew that I would need some activities to hand back to him when times (and tempers) got desperate.  So I packed some of his favorite smaller toys and then I turned to Facebook where I asked my readers for suggestions.  They came through BIG TIME and I (and Bob and Lily and especially our EARS and our SANITY) are forever grateful.

What follows are three of the most simple, frugal, easy suggestions.  But believe me when I tell you, Landon spent HOUR after HOUR enjoying them!

Pipe Cleaners in a Bottle

Went to the dollar store.  Picked up a $1 pack of colorful pipe cleaners.  When I got home I cut the pipe cleaners in half to double the amount.  We alternated between a clean empty sprinkles bottle and an empty (dry) water bottle.  Landon was given a bottle and a small handful of pipe cleaners.  (I rationed the pipe cleaners to him b/c every 15 minutes or so he inevitably ran out, having dropped or dumped them on the ground.)

pipe cleaners

He played with the pipe cleaners on their own.  He put pipe cleaners in the bottles.  He shook the bottles.  He dumped the bottles out and started all over again.  When he was out of pipe cleaners he would screech for more and I’d fork them over.

So simple. So ingenious.

car road trip boredom buster toddler pipe cleaners

car road trip boredom buster toddler pipe cleaners bottle

Magnets on a Cake Pan

Last fall I was thrift store shopping and picked up a brand new metal cake pan for $.25.  This pan is a round cake pan and, of course, magnetic.  I rounded up some LeapFrog magnets that we had laying around the house and plunked them onto the pan.

Landon SQUEALED with delight over this silly little pan and magnets!  He took the magnets off, he stuck them back on.  He banged them on top of the pan.  He banged them together.  He put them back on the pan and moved them all around.

Best quarter ever spent!  (And you could easily save your quarter and just use a pan you already have if it’s fairly free of baking residue.)

magnets on cake tray car road trip boredom buster toddler

Box of Cards

And finally, a box of playing cards.  You can pick up a box of cards (sometimes even a multi-pack) at the dollar store for, yes, $1.

Open box.

Hand kid box.

Marvel at how long these cards can keep the kid occupied.

Landon pulled cards out, stuffed cards back in, threw cards in the air.  Everybody won!

car road trip boredom buster toddler pack of playing cards

car road trip boredom buster pack of cards

car road trip boredom buster toddler playing cards

So there you have it!  $2.25 that kept the backseat of our car QUIET for several hours during our long journey.

Suggestions from our awesome readers!

  • Tooth Floss
  • Post – It Notes
  • Window Crayons or Markers
  • Put different size pom poms in a dry water bottle and give your child a pair of tweezers to try to get them out

Thanks, Lori and Renee!


Toddler Road Trip Actvities

3 thoughts on “Toddler Road Trip Activities: How $2.25 Bought Us 4 Hours of Happy Silence”

  1. Here is another simple and cheap idea… paper dixie cups, like the ones you use when you brush teeth– my grandson LOVES to stack, pull apart, squash them– they are flexible to squash but can easily be popped back open and restacked, stuffed back in the box and put in the cabinet he can reach — at nearly 2, he is fascinated with putting in and taking out of things!


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